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Fleets urge minimum star safety standard

Crash test: The Australasian Fleet Management Association are calling for stricter safety rules on light commercial vehicles, such as the three-star ANCAP-rated Mahindra Pik-Up (left).

Australian design rules inadequate to protect vehicle occupants, says AFMA

1 Jun 2012

AUSTRALIA’S peak organisation for the vehicle fleet industry has urged the federal government to adopt mandatory minimum Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) star ratings for cars and light trucks sold in Australia.

The Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) – representing hundreds of vehicle fleet managers across Australia and New Zealand – said the time had come to tighten safety rules to rid the market of vehicles with safety ratings as low as two stars that can still be legally be sold here.

AFMA applauded this week’s move by mining giant BHP Billiton to buy only five-star safety rated vehicles in future, saying it was an example of how fleet managers, particularly of large organisations, could help to set the agenda.

But AFMA research and communications director Ken Thompson told GoAuto that current official Australian Design Rules (ADRs) provided inadequate safety protection for drivers and occupants.

“Unfortunately, there is little connection between ADR compliance and safety in crash performance,” he said.

“There are vehicles for sale in the market that have rated as low as two star in an ANCAP (Australian New Car Assessment Program ) test.”

Mr Thompson said occupants in a two-star vehicle were likely to sustain serious injury in a crash, while occupants of five-star cars would sustain only slight injury in a similar smash.

“AFMA supports the drive to safer vehicles, and would like to see more initiatives from government such as a minimum ANCAP rating scheme where vehicles not meeting that minimum requirement would not be allowed in the marketplace,” he said.

“The Association would also like to see the early mandatory introduction of certain safety related features to be standard on all passenger and light commercial vehicles.

“Systems such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and side curtain airbags have been shown to be able to significantly reduce accidents and injury.

“There should be no reason that we are aware of why this should not be done as a matter of urgency.”

The federal government’s own vehicle fleet purchasing policies demand five-star ANCAP rating for all passenger cars.

It is also getting set to tighten its light-truck safety policy to four-stars on July 1.

Light trucks sold by most Australian motor manufacturers and importers already qualify for the four-star standard, with a growing list stepping up to five star. These include the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Volkswagen Amarok, Holden Ute and Ford Falcon Ute, with the new Holden Colorado also expected to qualify for the top ranking soon.

Also, Toyota has confirmed to GoAuto that Australia’s top-selling ute, the HiLux, will be upgraded in 2013, with the intention of lifting it from the current four stars to five stars.

According to ANCAP’s How Safe Is Your Car website, the Great Wall V240 ute only rates two stars, while the Mahindra Pik-Up gets three stars.

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